The Great Society Timeline

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

Time Line

1962 Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring
1963 Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president

War on Poverty

Great Society

Johnson reelected

Twenty-Fourth Amendment ratified


Medicare and Medicaid

Malcolm X assassinated

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Voting Rights Act

1966 Black Panther Party

Poor People’s Campaign

Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated

Robert F. Kennedy assassinated


The Great Society

A career politician from Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson seemed at first glance an unlikely champion of anti-poverty and civil rights legislation. Nonetheless, he became the president most responsible for ending racial segregation, and he pushed important social legislation through Congress that continues to protect the needy.

Johnson became president when Kennedy was assassinated. He carried out Kennedy’s goal of making segregation illegal. After winning reelection in 1964, Johnson launched a major anti-poverty program known as the Great Society.

The Great Society is important in American history because it focused on a group that had received little benefit from any previous reform legislation—the rural poor. Urban workers had unionized and had benefited from legislation passed during the Progressive Era. European immigrants had worked hard and had seen to it that their children became educated, assimilated, productive citizens. However, the rural poor in the postwar era, coming from a background of generations of poverty, ignorance, and lack of choices, could not help themselves. The Great Society offered them opportunities that millions of them made the most of. As a result of legislation passed during the Johnson era, twelve million Americans rose above the economic poverty level.

The Civil Rights movement did not end with the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. African Americans continued to fight for their rights, especially at the polls. By 1968, millions of unregistered African Americans had registered to vote, participating in the political process for the first time.

In the same era, women were fighting for their rights. With the sympathy of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and with Johnson’s active support, women gained legal rights to equal pay. They also formed their own lobbying organization and continued to fight for greater social equality.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Great Society Practice Test

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